A Messianic Jewish Perspective
What’s a Messianic Jewish perspective on the Bible? Messianic Jews are Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah predicted by the Jewish Scriptures (the Old Testament). The Messianic Jewish perspective on the Bible starts with the assumption that Jesus is Jewish—zealous for the commandments of God and anxious for the covenantal promises given to his people. The sign above his head on the cross said, “King of the Jews.” A Messianic perspective assumes that the New Testament is also Jewish, written by Jewish people living in the land of Israel who were part of the Jewish religion of that time—followers of the Jewish Messiah predicted by the Jewish Scriptures.
That’s different from other perspectives on the Bible. Most Bible studies start with the assumption that Jesus came to cancel the Jewish Scriptures, swap out the Jewish religion with a new, updated one, and replace the people of Israel with the Gentiles of the church. That assumption unhitches faith in Jesus from the Old Testament and the Jewish people. It’s a serious misunderstanding of the Bible called “replacement theology.”
A Messianic Jewish perspective on the Bible tries to understand the Bible as the original Jewish writers intended. We try to read the Bible the way the original readers would have understood it. It’s a whole new way of looking at the Bible—and at the same time, it’s a very old way. It’s how the Bible was meant to be read.
Torah Club Around the World
We call it Torah Club because it’s based on the study of the Torah. The word torah is Hebrew for “law” and “instruction.” Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Torah Club Members study the Torah and its relationship to the rest of the Bible, particularly the New Testament, the Gospels, and the writings of Paul.
Torah Club has been around since 1993. It originally started as a subscription-based Bible study intended to provide Messianic Jewish students with weekly study materials with a special emphasis on correcting the errors of replacement theology and showing the applicability of the whole Bible, especially the Old Testament. Since then, it has grown into a vibrant and thriving community of Yeshua’s disciples—both Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians—who regularly gather to learn and grow together.
Torah Club Members come from all flavors of Christian denominations because Torah Club is a non-denominational, parachurch Bible study. The study materials teach a Messianic Jewish perspective, but most members are ordinary people from ordinary churches. You don’t have to be Jewish or Messianic to belong to Torah Club. Christians of every stripe participate. Despite our differences in practice, we all share the Jewish roots of our faith because our Master and Savior is Jewish.
Local Torah Clubs are part of a broad network of clubs all over the world. All the clubs study the same material, moving at the same pace through the Bible. When you join, you suddenly belong to the world’s biggest ongoing Messianic Bible study.
Torah Clubs are led by ordinary people who volunteer to host the weekly Bible study. Anyone can become a club leader. You don’t need to be a Bible teacher to lead a club. Structurally, Torah Club is decentralized—composed of small groups facilitated by independent leaders. Local groups have broad latitude in planning their own events and presenting the content each week. Local leaders are responsible for only a few students, making discussions vibrant and inclusive. No one’s left sitting forgotten in the back row; everyone can get involved in a meaningful way.
Club members receive weekly lesson workbooks with assigned Bible readings, Messianic Jewish Bible commentary, study questions, and life-application discussion questions. The club leaders receive a leader’s version of the workbook with an answer key. During the week, members study through the lesson. At the club meeting, clubs watch a short teaching video, discuss the material, and talk about the lesson. It’s that simple.
Torah Club Is Hard
But, as simple as it is to be a member of the club, Torah Club is not easy. It’s hard. It takes a lot of work. This is not a six-week, topical Bible study. It’s a serious, relentless, in-depth Bible study augmented with helpful commentary for every week of the year. The weekly lessons are keyed to the synagogue’s Bible-reading schedule, so club members learn alongside the Jewish community. The disciplined pace keeps you moving through the Bible. With another new lesson each week, a year of Torah Club covers a lot of ground.
Torah Club leadership requires, at the very least, a year-long commitment. This gives students and leaders time to get to know each other and get comfortable with provocative practical and theological conversations. It offers long-term social and spiritual continuity that’s hard to find in the era of the gig economy.
Group accountability motivates members to keep up with the readings and study questions. Club members are expected to do their homework before attending club meetings. The Bible commentaries include fascinating insights and teachings from Jewish rabbis and traditional Jewish interpretations that illuminate the text. Every week we fearlessly charge forward into matters where Sunday school classes fear to tread. Club members dive into deep waters, wrestle with big questions, and explore beyond traditional boundaries.
It’s not for everyone. Some people love it; some people don’t. That’s because Torah Club is a theological revolution. It’s a return to first principles. It strips away the accumulated layers of speculative theologizing and sectarian protectionism that have come to define so many church denominations. It reveals the Bible in its original context: a revelation from God to the Jewish people and, through them, to the nations.
Placing the Bible back into its Jewish context is the master key to unlocking its mysteries and deciphering its difficult passages. Harmonizing the Old and New Testaments, reconciling the epistles of Paul and James, and understanding Yeshua’s gospel of the kingdom are all finally within reach. Comprehension of the Bible follows naturally on the heels of familiarity with Second Temple Judaism, and Torah Club develops this familiarity like no other Bible study in the world. The Bible makes sense for a Torah Club Student, just like it made sense to its first readers. Week after week, confusion gives way to clarity.
The church has lost a clear vision of Christ—the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth. Our goal is to rediscover him, see him as he is, hear his words with first-century ears, and encounter him as a rabbi and teacher. If we get Yeshua right, we’ll get the apostles right, we’ll get the Old Testament right, and we’ll get discipleship right.
For new students, it won’t be easy. It’ll be challenging. It’ll be provocative. You’ll have to reconsider the assumptions you’ve built over a lifetime reading the Scriptures. However, it’ll be worth it, and you won’t be alone. You and your fellow club members will discover together the power of the revelation of God.
Torah Club started small, but it’s rapidly multiplying. Thousands of testimonies from leaders and students indicate that God is working in incredible ways through Torah Club—and in many ways, the club is just getting started. In fact, it starts fresh every fall with a new study track.
If you’ve ever been confused by a Bible verse, if you’re longing for community or want to experience real discipleship, then go “where disciples learn”—Torah Club. We begin a new Torah learning cycle with new content in October. This is a perfect opportunity for you to join thousands of other students in this prophetic restoration. Rediscover Rabbi Yeshua and see the Bible with new clarity and comprehension. Plant your roots deep in the revelation of God and develop the tools you need to engage the world with the good news of the kingdom.
Maybe it’s not for you. But maybe it is.
Join or start a Torah Club at torahclub.org.
The new study, The Beginning of Wisdom, began in October.
This content was originally published here.